Author Archives: Sue

The joy of slang

Love it or loathe it, slang (or non-standard English) is all around us. Language purists try in vain to impose rules that would keep language constrained to what they would define as ‘proper’ usage but the joy of English (and … Continue reading

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The lost art of letter writing

There’s a generation of young people for whom letters – especially handwritten letters – must seem old-fashioned and quaint. In an age of instant communication via text, emails, Twitter and Facebook, most young people won’t have written any letters themselves, … Continue reading

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The History of English – in 10 minutes

Back in 2011, The Open University produced a fun series of short videos called The History of English in 10 minutes. Produced by the Open Learn section of The Open University, these videos are a fantastic free resource to anyone … Continue reading

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Inspector Montalbano: the world of Italian hand gestures

With the nights drawing in and temperatures beginning to drop here in the UK, what a tonic BBC4′s Italian police drama Inspector Montalbano is proving to be. I can swap grey, chilly London for the gorgeous sunlit laneways and Baroque … Continue reading

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Diana Nyad: nominative determinism strikes again

On August 31 2013, record-breaking long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, aged 64, became the first person ever to swim the 110 miles of open water from Havana, Cuba, to Florida. She swam this distance in 53 hours and without the aid … Continue reading

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The Atlas of True Names: making the familiar seem strange

Did you know that Great Britain can also be called ‘Great Land of The Tattooed’? Not because of the popularity of tattoos in this country. Rather, it’s the name you arrive at if you look deeper into the etymology of … Continue reading

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We need to close the compound noun gap…

The English language comprises hundreds of thousands of words and is rich in phrases, idioms and other word combinations. And yet, sometimes even English struggles to convey exactly what you mean, despite numerous ‘borrowings’ of words from other languages. Dinosaur … Continue reading

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word: or, the art of the non-apology

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” ― Benjamin Franklin “Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.” ― John Wayne Every once in a while, people in public life have to apologise for something they’ve said or done. While … Continue reading

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Rapping the alphabet Bajan-style

The internet truly is full of wonders -you never know what little gems you are going to find. While visiting the Facebook page Totally Barbados recently, I came across this great video clip of a Rastafarian who clearly loves the … Continue reading

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Using words to paint pictures…

I love words. And I love certain typefaces (particularly Johnston sans – the font used by Transport for London), although I hate others (I’m looking at you, comic sans). I also really like the combination of words and fonts, as … Continue reading

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